Ralph Wilson, of Sterling, passed away on May 29, 2021 at Rice County District Hospital at the age of 82. His final days were blessed with the comforting presence of family and many friends.
Ralph was born July 10, 1938 in Osawatomie, Kansas to Robert and Georgia (Stanton) Wilson. He spent his youth in Osawatomie, and remained devoted throughout his life to his beloved Osawatomie High School Class of 1956. He went on to study at the University of Kansas and Baker University, and to graduate from Pittsburg State College.
Ralph married Diane Dollar on August 27, 1960 in Osawatomie. Ralph and Diane went on to spend nearly 61 years as best friends and companions. Their children and grandchildren cherish the example of marriage and devotion that they provided.
After a period as a high school teacher in Missouri, in 1964 Ralph and Diane moved to Sterling, where Ralph took up a position with the Farmers State insurance agency, and subsequently with the Farmers State Bank (now First Bank). In his long career at the bank, Ralph touched the lives of countless farmers, ranchers, business owners, and families in Sterling and Rice County through his compassionate and personal approach to banking.
During his working years, Ralph served on the USD 376 school board and was instrumental in the 1970’s effort to ensure that Sterling benefited from a full-fledged medical practice. He was also a long-time member of Sterling’s Rotary International chapter. He was a dedicated and much-loved member of the Sterling United Presbyterian Church and was especially grateful to Rev. Melissa Krabbe for her pastoral care, particularly during his final illness.
In retirement, Ralph was an enthusiastic (verging on fanatical) follower of the sports programs at Sterling High School and Sterling College, as well as the many athletic, musical, and artistic pursuits of his grandkids.
Ralph’s family will remember him as a man of deep integrity and personal decency. He leaves behind his wife, Diane; sons Christopher (husband Mark), Jack, and David (wife Kristi); three deeply loved grandchildren Kaci (fiancé Nate), Bryce and Karissa Wilson; brother Donald Wilson and sister Linda Lockey; and multitudes of friends.
The family is grateful to Dr. Stacy Dashiell and the dozens of medical professionals in Sterling, Lyons and Wichita who cared for Ralph during his illness, and to friends and neighbors for the many gestures of support in recent weeks.
Private family services will be held on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Public visitation will be from 2:00 until 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at Birzer Funeral Home, Sterling with family present 5:00 until 7:00 P.M. A celebration of life service may be held at a later date. Memorials may be given to Sterling College or Sterling Free Public Library in care of Birzer Funeral Home, Sterling.
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A Memorial Tree was planted for Ralph